Aspen Historical Society renovates two museums and adds new ‘history hikes’ for summer |

Aspen Historical Society renovates two museums and adds new ‘history hikes’ for summer

Renovated Wheeler/Stallard Museum opens Tuesday

The HoldenMarolt Hoedown in 2021. (Aspen Historical Society)

The Aspen Historical Society’s Wheeler/Stallard Museum will open for the summer on Tuesday, beginning a season that unveils makeovers at its two museums and new programs from the nonprofit.

New offerings include additions to the “history hike” series with a July 9 guided hike of the Midland Railbed Trail, following a former railroad corridor from Koch Lumber Park to the Holden/Marolt Mining Museum, and an Aug. 13 history hike in the Hunter Creek Valley detailing the historic buildings and settlement history of the area.

The nonprofit is also focusing a new adult education “History in Your Backyard” program on Hunter Creek, led by Hunter Creek Historical Foundation founders Graeme Means and Howie Mallory on Sept. 20 at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum. It is planned as the first in a regular series exploring the lesser-known history of local places.

“We are hoping to open people’s their eyes to the hidden or not so hidden history right in our backyard,” said Historical Society marketing director Eliza Greenman Burlingame.

The season’s opening week also includes the annual free and family-friendly Holden/Marolt Hoedown on June 3, which will be many visitors’ first glimpse at the updated Holden/Marolt museum grounds, including new interpretive signage and seating. It opens for tours on June 14, when the full slate of Historical Society walking tours also launches.

The ghost towns at Ashcroft and Independence will open June 17 and 18, respectively, but without the on-site guides who have been standard in years past as the Historical Society faces the staffing shortages that are affecting services in all local sectors this season.

“We won’t have as much docent coverage at those sites,” Burlingame said. “Independence will be entirely self-guided and Ashcroft will have a docent on-site Thursday through Monday for the summer.”

Ranching equipment and visitors at the Holden/Marolt Ranching and Mining Museum. (Aspen Historical Society)

This week’s opening of the Wheeler/Stallard will also unveil the latest interior historical preservation upgrade to the Victorian home, with new 1880s-appropriate wallpapering in the foyer and staircase. It completes a research and renovation project for the Historical Society that sought to create one of the few historically accurate interior home representations of Aspen’s Victorian era.

In 2021, the nonprofit papered the house museum’s parlor and dining room with an ornate pattern from the “American Aesthetic” movement of the 1880s, with furniture and decor to match. They picked another period-appropriate sparkling gold and green pattern for the entry and staircase with raised patterns.

“That was all the rage at the time,” curator Lisa Hancock said.

The museum’s ongoing exhibit is “Decade by Decade: Aspen Revealed,” a chronological interpretive history of the town.

Summer 2022 also marks the return of the Historical Society’s annual ice cream social on Aug. 6, the first since before the coronavirus pandemic in 2019.